Comparing news reports

Categories: Andre DubusNewsSkiing

On the 3^rd February 1998 20 people fell 300 feet to their deaths after an American Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler jet cut through the wire that supported their cable car which was taking the skiers up mount Cermis in Cavalese, northern Italy. Cavalese, a popular skiing resort is situated near Trento and about 60 miles from the U. S base at Aviano. It was from this base that the aircraft was on a combat training mission for Bosnia when the accident occurred. I have collected Information from three articles all on this incident.

They are: the 4^th February 1998’s editions of The Times; a broadsheet

newspaper, The Mirror; a tabloid paper and the 16^th February’s edition of Newsweek, an American news publication. While all three articles are reporting on the same event, agreeing on facts such as place, date and numbers of dead etc. they all report in very different ways. The Times, a broadsheet newspaper reports in a way that is very typical to that type of publication.

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It uses calm, matter of fact language which convey to the reader that this is an article with all the information. Unlike the Mirror, whose quotes come more from British eye-witnesses The Times focuses on comments from Italian and U.

S. government officials as well. The Mirror’s style of reporting is very Tabloidese, archetypical of the publication, it’s pacy, dramatic language helps to involve the reader and keep the article moving. Tabloids also do this through the use of restricted vocabulary, highly compressed words and a heavy use of puns and wordplay.

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As some of these aren’t suitable for such a delicate and sensitive situation, however, very sensationalised language is used instead “screamed down the valley and ripped through the wire” is an example of this. Newsweek, the American publication, is dramatically un-like either of

the other two articles. The language is totally opposite to The Mirror’s report and also quite different to The Times’. Newsweek down plays the incident, suggesting some reactions were a form of anti-Americanism and that it’s wrong to blame it on America. The fact that this report comes from an American publication, a country that is involved in the events makes its contents of trying to cover up and reduce the impact of the event un-surprising. All three articles contain factual information regarding the incident. Both The Mirror and The Times have a lot more quotes and put them down as they are.

Newsweek, however, either leaves out the more incriminating ones, or, through the use of language disguises them. All the articles agree on facts such as “Twenty people dead” and “Fell 300 feet” There are, however, facts that each article has and the others don’t. The Mirror’s report contains information such as “The huge metal hook, weighing several tonnes, which held the carriage to the cable, smashed down through the roof. ” There is no mention in either of the other two articles about the hook. The Mirror also gives more details on the dead than the other two articles do. While they all agree that there were 20 killed, The

Mirror points out that ” The victims were nine women. , ten men and one child. ” The Mirror also details that ” at least six were German, two Hungarian and another two Polish “. The Times does pick up on this point but it only says that “most of them were German” and doesn’t give numbers or any more in-depth details. The Newsweek report leaves out all such details totally, just reading that there were “20 tourists from seven European countries” dead . I think this is because, that by leaving out such details, the article doesn’t seem so personal or horrific, it could just be part of the Newsweek seemingly

playing down the incident. The Times includes facts on the time, saying “the disaster happened at 3. 25 pm” The Times’ article also seems to contain a lot more information on the plane; quoting one eye witness who said that they saw the plane “about a hundred metres from the ground. ” It also gives details on what the plane is used for, what it is equipped to do and that “the unit from which the plane came had just been cited for completing 60,000 hours of `accident free flying’ “. The only conclusively original, which also happens to be an only mildly incriminating fact that Newsweek contained was that “Italy’s

Air force chief Gen. Mario Arpino said `the prowler was four miles off course and flying 3,300 feet below the altitude designated in the flight plan filed at Aviano. Discrepancies I noticed between the articles were that there is a disagreement on the minimum altitude at which the U. S. pilots in Italy can fly: Newsweek states that it is “500 feet”-that was quoted from Italy’s Air Force chief General, Mario Arpino. The Times, however, quotes Massimo Brutti, the deputy defence minister saying it is “fifteen hundred metres”. As already mentioned, all the articles use different language.

The Mirror uses punchy, dramatic and sensationalised language while reporting on the incident. Some of the imagery in The Mirror is quite blatant “The bodies were lying beneath sheets of metal, most of them were torn apart” The visual images this conjures up reinforces the Mirror’s point of what a horrific event this was. The language contained within The Mirror article, written by Mark Dowdney, contains a lot of emotive adjectives, giving the details an even greater impact. The mirror concentrates on what happened to Neil Harmer and his girlfriend Stacey O’Donnell, two British holiday makers who were at

the resort during the accident. The article returns to them repeatedly throughout, this gives the article a more British taste, showing how luckily they narrowly missed getting on that lift. As well as quotes from them there are also quotes from regional president Carlo Anderotti, a fire services spokesman and Christina Antoiazzi; owner of the Hotel Locanda La Cascata, which is situated just 100 yards from the cable car lines. The Times concentrates more on information given from government officials, such as Massimo Brutti, the deputy defence minister, as well as having quotes from the Pentagon and search and rescue workers.

The fact that the excerpts used in this article are from more official sources gives the report a much more formal feeling. The language is more complex than that used in The Mirror and has a higher level of sophistication about it. The matter-of-factness about this article leads the reader to think and consider more the incident as a whole, rather than just the tragedy of the deaths as the Mirror does. “20 die in cable car after jet cuts wire” this is the heading from The Times’ which shows the calm, objectiveness of the language used. Newsweek doesn’t contain that much information on what actually

happened in Cavalese, it skips over the details of the accident and seems to be more about what Europe, and in particular Italy are feeling towards the U. S. using the area for flight training. This article is definitely very bias, not seeming to care about the accident in regard to the tragedy of the event but rather how it will effect the U. S. and trying to justify what happened. The Newsweek article is the only one to say that people have “seen both U. S. and Italian” planes flying low. The Language used in the Newsweek article is equally sophisticated as that used by The Times, it does however have a very different tone

about it when it’s read. The use of language such as “griped” and “Some claimed” suggest that what people have seen has no basis, that there is no evidence to prove it. When I read this article I feel almost as if the writers consider those who have “claimed to have seen” things as inferior and not understanding that the U. S. apparently have a right to act like they did. The Newsweek article is often hard to follow, having been padded out with information not directly linked to the accident. The end paragraph goes on about how the reaction was a form on anti-Americanism. It states that “analysts

found links between the Alpine accident and the execution in Texas of Karla Faye Tucker. ” They are inferring that this was apparently connected as the pope had “personally pleaded for the convicted murderer to be pardoned” . The language throughout this section is detached and the meaning is hard to follow. I do however think that what is trying to be said, is that the accident is being blamed on the U. S. because they executed Karla Faye Tucker. The Mirror and The Times are set out in similar ways, they both have: photographs with captions, bold type and four columns of writing.

The Mirror has the heading “20 SKIERS KILLED AS JET SLICES CABLE CAR WIRE” which is written in bold, uppercase writing as shown. Beneath the heading is a photograph of the cabin smashed up in the snow. Also, beside the heading is another smaller photo of a cable car on the wires. Other presentational devices employed in the article are: a bold sub-heading, bold writing, a pull quote, a single large bullet point and a diagram of what happened, with labels. The diagram also has a map of Italy inset at the bottom, showing the area of the accident. The Times uses some of the same devices for setting out the article

although it’s done in a very different way. The Times’ report has a photo, spanning the whole page width ways and taking approximately one third of the page length up. Below it reads “20 die in cable car after jet cuts wire” this is in bold writing, and, as it’s the heading ids in much larger text than the rest of the writing. The article also has a map at the bottom, showing in much more detail and close up the area of the accident. Beside the map is a photograph of an EA-6B prowler, the aircraft that caused the accident. The Newsweek article is the most simplistic of them all, containing no pictures, diagrams or maps.

It is set out in three columns, of seemingly quite large print, headed by “Blood on the Snow” in bold and below, in smaller writing (but larger than the article writing) reads the introductory sentence. The Times’ and The Mirror’s articles engage the reader’s interest much more than the Newsweek one. They both show evidence of where and what happened. Although both these articles contain much more information and more writing than the Newsweek one they are, thanks to their set out and language, much easier to read and absorb. The presentational devices seem to break up the writing, you look at them while you read,

giving yourself a visual focus rather than just reading, in addition to this they give evidence to support the writing. In my opinion the article from The Mirror suggests the full horror of the incident most effectively as it concentrates a lot on the reactions of `real people’, not only that but they’re also Britons, giving the reader something to relate to much more than if they were foreign. The writing style of The Mirror’s report is easy to read as it is in the style that I’m used to reading. The photographs, diagram and map give visual evidence to what you’re reading and help you to understand more the tragedy that has taken place.


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